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Astilbe chinensis is a herbaceous perennial plant that is part of the Saxifragaceae plant family. The plant is native to China and typically blooms from July to August in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 8. Astilbe chinensis features small light-purple flowers that are tightly packed into arching plumes, on top of 12- to 15-inch (about 30 to 38 cm) tall stems. The leaves are generally a bronze or deep green color and have a toothed edge. It is a popular flower for shade or woodland gardens, can thrive as a potted plant, and can be used for cut flowers as well.
Generally, astilbe chinensis requires well-draining soil and frequent watering to maintain its vibrant color and structure. The optimum soil to use for astilbe chinensis typically is organically rich and moist. Adding compost mulch during the summer months will help the soil retain water, which aids the development of flower blossoms.
If the astilbe chinensis receives an inadequate amount of water, the leaves will generally turn brown. Although the chinensis species is one of the more drought-resistant species of the astilbe plant genus, dry weather is a tremendous strain on the plant. On especially hot days, the leaves generally sunburn if exposed to direct sunlight. It is recommended to grow the plants in areas that are partially to fully shaded from the sun.
As the astilbe chinensis grows, its appearance is generally maintained by pruning. Typically, faded flower stalks are removed to maintain a uniform color within groups of astilbe chinensis. If overgrowth becomes a problem, it is recommended to divide the plant and transplant the individual portions to other areas of the garden. Since astilbe chinensis is a slow-spreading plant and features a rhizome, division is generally done every three to four years.
The astilbe plant can be used as ground cover in shaded areas of a garden. Groups can also be used as border flowers around shrubs, fences, or walkways that are partially shaded. They also make excellent edging flowers along streams and around ponds.
Generally, astilbe plants are free of pest damage but could attract certain insects, including aphids, spider mites, and white flies. More common problems include fungal diseases, such as crown rot, which is usually caused by the Fusarium or Pythium fungus. Fungal spores usually develop if the soil cannot properly drain water or too much water is supplied to the plant. Applying fungicides to the plant can generally halt crown rot.